Nearly half of the UK’s fruit and vegetables are now produced to the environmental standards demanded by the LEAF Marque accreditation scheme.
Analysis by LEAF (Linking Environment And Farming) in its global impacts report shows more than 90 per cent of farmed British lettuce, leeks and asparagus and at least three quarters of onions, peppers, beetroot, parsnips, watercress, cherries and broccoli are grown to the Integrated Farm Management standards which require farmers to monitor and improve their use of inputs and manage resources such as water, soil and energy more effectively.
The largest single crop grown under the system is wheat at more than 80,000 hectares.
The standard is now used by farmers in 27 countries with farms in Tunisia and Zambia gaining accreditation in the last year. Meanwhile, the Island of Jersey requires all its farmers to achieve LEAF Marque certification to access support.
“We are looking to replicate this model elsewhere as countries change the way they support their farms,” said Tom Green, chairman of LEAF Marque.
“Supermarkets are also seeing the value of the scheme as they seek to meet environmental targets. Waitrose has insisted all its UK-grown fruit and vegetables are LEAF Marque certified since the scheme began in 2006 and Marks & Spencer now includes certification as one of its Plan A attributes. We remain focused on building partnerships across the supply chain, particularly in the livestock sector.”
The report was compiled before the Covid-19 pandemic but LEAF chief executive Caroline Drummond believed the virus will have a profound impact on how food is produced.
“What is clear is that Corvid-19 has resulted in a huge disruption to the food chain. Without a doubt the spotlight in the future will be on food security, in its broadest sense including food availability, self-sufficiency and domestic stocks, safety, fraud and of course, the capability of farmers and growers to produce.”